CONTEXT MATTERS: VISIONING A FOOD HUB IN       YOLO AND SOLANO COUNTIES                     PREPARED FOR:               TH...
EXECUTIVE SUMMARYOVERVIEWThis report was prepared by a team of students at UC Davis for the Yolo Ag and FoodAlliance (AFA)...
who serve non-local markets. The region also contains a large number of small-scalegrowers (especially in Clarksburg and C...
2.) Understand why past attempts to create alternative aggregation and distribution     infrastructure in Yolo and Solano ...
ABOUT THE AUTHORSThe authors include eight UC Davis students who comprise the spring 2011 course CRD298: Food Systems Anal...
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThe CRD 298: Food Systems Analysis class extends our sincerest thanks to Dr. GailFeenstra and Dr. Tom Tomi...
TABLE OF CONTENTSIntroduction ...............................................................................................
Poverty .....................................................................................................................
Introduction―Food hubs‖ have recently received attention and popularity from multiple groups whoseinterests intersect with...
The specific opportunities for a potential food hub emerge from an examination of thelocal food system. Several key questi...
system to better understand how the current state of the food system might inform thedevelopment of a food hub.Methodology...
region, primary attention is given to Yolo and Solano Counties, but the report includesbrief references to other areas inc...
(Davis, West Sacramento, Winters, and Woodland) and several unincorporatedcommunities (Rumsey, Guinda, Capay, Brooks, Madi...
Income and EmploymentThe median household income in Yolo County is $40,769. The median income forfemales is $30,687, while...
Map sources: Map of Yolo County, 2008; Map of Solano County, n.d.; and Benbennick,2011.Solano County has a total area of 9...
Chapter 1: Food Hub AnalysisFor several years, non-profit food and agriculture organizations have studied food hubsand dev...
support food hubs, the Regional Food Hub Subcommittee of the USDA‘s Know YourFarmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) is involved wit...
this is a virtual hub, which can serve as an online directory, database,                     and/or marketplace)          ...
Table 1: Basic Typology of Food HubsModel type          Benefits                                       Risks              ...
Consumer-driven      Reflects existing consumer demand          May not have necessary            Oklahoma Food Coop, Ne...
Results from Survey of Existing Food HubsThe USDA is also a member of the Regional Food Hub Collaboration (USDA AMS, Walla...
Mission: to advance economic viability, social equity and ecological land management amonglimited-resource and aspiring fa...
     Working on programs to sell to corner stores in low‐ income and underserved         communities        Works with C...
Aggregation Point: FoodHub offers an online matchmaking platform that includes acomprehensive catalog of buyers and seller...
growers/producers: bulk purchase inputs/farm supplies, storage space, distribution services,market outlets, and business d...
The discussion reveals some of the problems with current definitions. This analysis seeks toprompt an intensive discussion...
definition raises the possibility that both non-profit partnerships and government               management of food hubs m...
   Coordinates is the dominant action that describes the primary function of the food           hub. Although the definit...
assist the AFA in creating its own definition or mission statement for a food hub. The exercisechallenges participants to ...
will conduct a Yolo County workshop (―Collaborating to Access New Markets‖) on Wednesday,June 29, 2011 to share their resu...
farmers, local businesses, consumers, and so forth. As noted by Agriculture Deputy SecretaryKathleen Merrigan, food hubs a...
Chapter 2: Yolo County Food System AssessmentProductionThis section discusses production in Yolo and Solano counties. The ...
The overall number of acres of farmland /grazing land is five times greater than the urban/builtland in Yolo County. The m...
Statistical Overview of Farms by County            Total # of Farm # Of Organic # Small                        # Small Sca...
wine grapes, seed crops (sunflower and safflower), alfalfa, and almonds (Yolo Countyagricultural crop report, 2009).Table ...
more farms were included in the events and the number of events was increased, as long at itwould not affect the farmers‘ ...
The acreage in Yolo County devoted to organic agriculture had an overall sharp increase in theperiod from 2005-2009 (Klons...
Data retrieved from Klonsky & Richter, 2011.Labor: An OverviewThere are five registered labor contractors in Yolo County. ...
According to USDA, Solano County had 2,813 hired agricultural workers in 2007 (NationalAgricultural Statistics Service qui...
Figure 1 Labor Demand in Yolo CountySource: SACOG Rural Urban Connections Strategy ReportLocal Farmers: Opportunities and ...
The Small Farm Center at the UC Davis conducted a survey that compared USDA data withproducer interviews and demonstrated ...
SummaryHistorically, Yolo and Solano Counties have been large-scale commodity producers growingcrops for a non-local marke...
Food ProcessingIndustry OverviewFood processors purchase fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy products, and other raw foods tha...
Yolo and Solano Processing Industry CompositionThe following section provides an overview of processing in Yolo and Solano...
Davis, 2010). This can be seen as an opportunity for local processors to have access to experteducation in post harvest ch...
being able to meet the proper volume requirements and price points of customers as primaryreasons to work with processors ...
can better access this drying facility as the plant serves a variety of customer outlets, and isalways strategizing to mai...
―develop their own vertically integrated distribution systems that tend to shut out wholesalers,small processors, and smal...
CONTEXT MATTERS: VISIONING A FOOD HUB IN YOLO AND SOLANO COUNTIES
CONTEXT MATTERS: VISIONING A FOOD HUB IN YOLO AND SOLANO COUNTIES
CONTEXT MATTERS: VISIONING A FOOD HUB IN YOLO AND SOLANO COUNTIES
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CONTEXT MATTERS: VISIONING A FOOD HUB IN YOLO AND SOLANO COUNTIES
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This report was prepared by a team of students at UC Davis for the Yolo Ag and Food Alliance (AFA). The objective was to examine the plausibility of creating a food hub in Yolo and Solano Counties. To achieve this, the UC Davis research team explored recent trends in food hubs across the country and conducted a food system assessment of the two counties. The food system assessment tracks historical trends and data in Yolo and Solano Counties for five sectors of the food system: production, processing, distribution, retail, and consumption. By analyzing these sectors, the report provides a context to
better understand the viability of a possible food hub in the region and includes exercises and recommendations to help guide the AFA through a planning process.
We designed this report to help the AFA understand the context of the local food system, create a common vision for a food hub, compile background information for future funding applications, and facilitate partnerships for the next stage in the design process
for a food hub.


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CONTEXT MATTERS: VISIONING A FOOD HUB IN YOLO AND SOLANO COUNTIES

  1. 1. CONTEXT MATTERS: VISIONING A FOOD HUB IN YOLO AND SOLANO COUNTIES PREPARED FOR: THE AG AND FOOD ALLIANCE BY: CRD 298: FOOD SYSTEMS ANALYSIS, UC DAVIS DANIELLE BOULÉ GEORGE HUBERT ANNA JENSEN ALANNAH KULL JULIA VAN SOELEN KIM COURTNEY MARSHALL KELSEY MEAGHER THEA RITTENHOUSE - JUNE 2011 – 1
  2. 2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARYOVERVIEWThis report was prepared by a team of students at UC Davis for the Yolo Ag and FoodAlliance (AFA). The objective was to examine the plausibility of creating a food hub inYolo and Solano Counties. To achieve this, the UC Davis research team explored recenttrends in food hubs across the country and conducted a food system assessment of thetwo counties. The food system assessment tracks historical trends and data in Yolo andSolano Counties for five sectors of the food system: production, processing, distribution,retail, and consumption. By analyzing these sectors, the report provides a context tobetter understand the viability of a possible food hub in the region and includes exercisesand recommendations to help guide the AFA through a planning process.We designed this report to help the AFA understand the context of the local food system,create a common vision for a food hub, compile background information for futurefunding applications, and facilitate partnerships for the next stage in the design processfor a food hub.RESULTSThe UC Davis research team found a wide range of existing food hub models, fromcentralized aggregation facilities to virtual models with no physical infrastructure. In eachof these cases, the local food system context determined the ultimate success of the foodhub. Likewise, in Yolo and Solano Counties, the success of a food hub will depend on anunderstanding of the AFA‘s vision and goals, the characteristics of the regional foodsystem, the size and reach appropriate for the hub‘s context, and relationships betweenkey stakeholders. A food hub‘s success will also be determined by a thoroughunderstanding of current and past attempts to create aggregation and distributioninfrastructure in the region.The AFA should consider several key characteristics of the regional food system indesigning a food hub. Most producers in the region are large-scale commodity growers 2
  3. 3. who serve non-local markets. The region also contains a large number of small-scalegrowers (especially in Clarksburg and Capay Valley) who may benefit from a local foodhub. A successful food hub could build upon existing agri-tourism efforts to create anidentity for the counties. There has been an interest to switch to organic production for awholesale market, but this has typically served customers outside of the region. Thecurrent distribution industry handles mostly non-local food products and distributioncompanies face many complex barriers. It is not clear whether a food hub wouldovercome all of these barriers.Nonetheless, the region contains many current and potential retail markets for localagricultural products, and local consumers are very interested in purchasing local food.Unfortunately, many local residents lack the resources to obtain fresh, healthy food; thepresence of food deserts and high obesity rates indicate that local emergency foodprograms and entitlement programs have not fully addressed the nutritional needs ofresidents.In the end, the UC Davis research team does not feel confident about the success of apotential food hub based on the data they collected and the significant financial riskassociated with starting such a project. Indeed, several past attempts to create a food hubin this region demonstrate the magnitude of these risks. Before investing in a food hub,the AFA might consider collaborating with other current efforts in Northern California orstrengthening existing infrastructure for food distribution in this region. Given thesignificant risks associated with creating a food hub, the AFA should first ensure that afood hub would address the major concerns of local producers, distributors, andconsumers before agreeing to undertake this project.RECOMMENDATIONSBased on this research, the UC Davis research team makes the followingrecommendations: 1.) Define and clarify a vision for a food hub. The AFA must agree upon its definition of a food hub, and this vision must align with the assets and needs of the local food system. 3
  4. 4. 2.) Understand why past attempts to create alternative aggregation and distribution infrastructure in Yolo and Solano Counties have been unsuccessful, and identify current local food hub efforts. 3.) Understand the specific needs and interests of key stakeholders in a potential food hub, including small and mid-size farmers, processors, retailers, and consumers. 4.) Identify how processing will fit into an envisioned food hub. 5.) Identify cold storage space that is available for possible food aggregation in Yolo and Solano Counties. 6.) Understand current successes where distribution companies have sourced limited local produce and consider ways in which this may be strengthened and expanded. 7.) Explore the current barriers facing distribution companies, like road infrastructure, seasonality, price points, etc., and determine whether a food hub could overcome these challenges. 8.) Explore consumer interest in buying local products and retailer interest in advertising these items. 9.) Consider including mechanisms to assure affordable food access in a potential food hub, such as balancing sales between higher prices and volume for institutional buyers and subsidized prices for low-income consumers.10.) Identify potential funding streams and other resources that will aid in planning and implementing a food hub (many of which are still being developed by the USDA). 4
  5. 5. ABOUT THE AUTHORSThe authors include eight UC Davis students who comprise the spring 2011 course CRD298: Food Systems Analysis. Danielle Boule, Courtney Marshall, Anna Jensen, TheaRittenhouse, and Julia Van Soelen Kim are graduate students in CommunityDevelopment. George Hubert is a graduate student in Geography, Kelsey Meagher is agraduate student in Sociology, and Alannah Kull is an undergraduate student inSustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. Together, they served as the research team togathered and analyze data for the writing of this report. As a group, they are passionateabout studying sustainable food systems and have a breadth of knowledge to draw uponfrom inside and outside the academe. CRD 298: Food Systems Analysis 5
  6. 6. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThe CRD 298: Food Systems Analysis class extends our sincerest thanks to Dr. GailFeenstra and Dr. Tom Tomich for their willingness to guide us through the process ofcreating a food system assessment. Their support, strategic feedback, and enthusiasm forthe process is greatly appreciated. We feel honored to learn from the best!We also thank the Ag and Food Alliance for their willingness to let us experiment outsideof the academe in order to learn, struggle, and explore with the many challenging foodsystem topics that they engage with day in and day out.Finally, we thank our interviewees and guest speakers who were kind enough to serve asinformants, and tell us more about the challenges and opportunities in our efforts tocreate a more environmentally sound, economically viable, and equitable food system.Thanks to Morgan Doran, Marcia Gibbs, José Martinez, Shawn Cauchi, LibbyO‘Sullivan, Susan Ellsworth, Tracy Lerman, Thomas Nelson, Karen Klonsky, MichaelWong, Bill McDonald, Richard Collins, Shermain Hardesty, Penny Leff, and RuthBeggell. Thank you to Joe Concannon of SACOG‘s Rural Urban Connections Strategiesand his GIS team who generously converted our data into the map provided inAppendix I. THANK YOU. 6
  7. 7. TABLE OF CONTENTSIntroduction ..................................................................................................................... 9Methodology ................................................................................................................. 11Profile of Yolo & Solano Counties ................................................................................ 12Chapter 1: Food Hub Analysis ....................................................................................... 16 Food Hub Design and Trends .................................................................................... 16 Sample Profiles of Existing Hubs .............................................................................. 21 Food Hub Definition.................................................................................................. 25 A Food Hub Definition for the AFA and the Yolo County Region ......................... 28 Food Hub Context ..................................................................................................... 29 Summary ................................................................................................................... 31Chapter 2: Yolo County Food System Assessment ........................................................ 32Production ..................................................................................................................... 32 Agricultural Land-Use in Yolo and Solano: An Overview ......................................... 32 Crop Trends: 1939 – 2009 ......................................................................................... 34 Yolo County .......................................................................................................... 34 Solano County ....................................................................................................... 36 Organic Agriculture ................................................................................................... 36 Yolo County .......................................................................................................... 36 Solano County ....................................................................................................... 37 Labor: An Overview .................................................................................................. 38 Local Farmers: Opportunities and Challenges ............................................................ 40 Summary ................................................................................................................... 42Food Processing ............................................................................................................ 43 Industry Overview ..................................................................................................... 43 Yolo and Solano Processing Industry Composition .................................................... 44 Barriers ..................................................................................................................... 45 Summary ................................................................................................................... 47Food Distribution in Yolo and Solano Counties ............................................................. 47 Industry Overview ..................................................................................................... 47 Yolo and Solano Distribution Industry Composition .................................................. 48 Distributors ............................................................................................................... 49 Distributors In Yolo and Solano Counties .............................................................. 49 Sacramento Region and Bay Area Distributors ...................................................... 50 Barriers ..................................................................................................................... 51 Summary ................................................................................................................... 52Retail and Consumption ................................................................................................ 52Retail............................................................................................................................. 53 Alternative Retail Outlets .......................................................................................... 53 Conventional Retail Outlets ....................................................................................... 56 Institutional Buyers ................................................................................................... 57Consumption ................................................................................................................. 57 Consumption in Yolo and Solano Counties ................................................................ 57 Food Insecurity ...................................................................................................... 58 7
  8. 8. Poverty .................................................................................................................. 60 Federal Programs for Food and Nutrition Assistance ............................................. 60 Emergency Food Services ...................................................................................... 61 Food Insecurity and Health .................................................................................... 62 Summary ................................................................................................................... 63Chapter 3: Conclusions & Next Steps ............................................................................ 64 Recommendations for Next Steps .............................................................................. 65References ..................................................................................................................... 69Appendices.................................................................................................................... 74 Appendix A: Preliminary Survey Results from a Nationwide Survey of Food Hubs Conducted by the Regional Food Hub Collaboration ................................................. 74 Appendix B: Food Hub Definition Process ................................................................ 77 Appendix C: FMMP Land Classifications.................................................................. 78 Appendix D: Listings of local producers .................................................................... 80 Appendix E: Farm Typology Groups ......................................................................... 81 Appendix F: Agricultural Regions of Small-Scale Growers in Yolo County .............. 82 Appendix G: Solano County Agricultural Production Regions ................................... 83 Appendix H: Processors in Yolo and Solano Counties ............................................... 84 Appendix I: Targeted Trucking Corridors with Highest Priority for Improvements - Yolo .......................................................................................................................... 91 Appendix J: Distributors in Yolo and Solano Counties .............................................. 92 Appendix K: Sacramento Region and Bay Area Distributors ..................................... 93 Appendix L: Retail & Institutional Buyers ................................................................. 94 Appendix M: Emergency Food Providers in Yolo and Solano Counties ................... 103 8
  9. 9. Introduction―Food hubs‖ have recently received attention and popularity from multiple groups whoseinterests intersect with food, agriculture, and community and economic development.The food hub concept represents an organizational vehicle for these groups to collaborateand create positive change for their members and local food systems. While we willdiscuss the complexities of defining a food hub in greater detail later in this report, theUC Davis research team offers the following working definition as a starting point: Afood hub is a physical site for aggregation, storage, light processing, and distribution offood products from small- to mid-scale farms within a region.In early 2011, the UC Davis research team was tasked by the Yolo Ag and Food Alliance(AFA) with examining the plausibility of a food hub in Yolo and Solano Counties. 1 Inenvisioning a possible food hub, the team recognized the importance of conducting afood system assessment of the two counties. A food system assessment is an analyticalexamination of the various components of a food system.The UC Davis research team chose to focus on the following sectors: production,processing, distribution, retail, and consumption. This assessment identifies majorparticipants, historical patterns, and recent changes to each sector. The report offersbackground context and qualitative and quantitative data sets that can be utilized as astarting point for visioning a food hub. It also offers a variety of exercises, data, andrecommendations to help guide the AFA through this process. The assessment starts withbackground information and trends in food hubs. It then includes an analysis of thevarious segments of the Yolo and Solano County food systems. The report ends with aseries of recommendations for next steps. The study is neither a specific business plannor a vision statement. Rather, the study marks an initial step toward the planning anddesign of a food hub.1 The Yolo AFA is interested in a wide range of distribution, processing, and aggregation infrastructure tosupport local growers. For the sake of simplicity, the UC Davis research team uses the term ―food hub‖ torefer to these diverse efforts. 9
  10. 10. The specific opportunities for a potential food hub emerge from an examination of thelocal food system. Several key questions underlie the analysis of the local Yolo-Solanofood system. These questions attempt to reveal both the immediate feasibility and, moregenerally, the social utility afforded by a food hub:  What are the opportunities and barriers for processing, distributing, selling and buying local products?  Supply Analysis: What is the production capacity? What exactly is included in aggregation, processing, and distribution infrastructure? What is the current situation in regard to the infrastructure? Where are the gaps in this infrastructure?  Demand Analysis: What is the current consumer demand for and access to local food?  What are possible economic, social, and environmental role(s) for the food hub or other alternative processing and distribution infrastructure?While not all of these questions were comprehensively addressed, they guided the generaldirection of the report. This report suggests multiple opportunities and potentialrelationships that may support a food hub in the Yolo-Solano region in order tostrengthen the sustainability of the local food system.This report can be used as a tool to:  Better understand the viability of a food hub within the context of the local food system;  Assist the AFA in creating a common vision for a food hub;  Provide the AFA with background information that can help secure funding;  Facilitate the partnerships necessary to implement a food hub.The primary audience for this report is the AFA, with secondary audience including thoseinterested and engaged with the food system in Yolo and Solano Counties. The primarypurpose of the work is to provide a holistic picture of the Yolo and Solano County food 10
  11. 11. system to better understand how the current state of the food system might inform thedevelopment of a food hub.MethodologyIn winter 2011, prior to conducting research for this report, the research team studied thefield of Food System Analysis to prepare and learn how to conduct our own analysis.Subsequently, the research team collaborated with the AFA to conduct a food systemassessment of Yolo and Solano Counties to inform their preliminary work on food hubs.In March 2011 the research team met with Morgan Doran from the AFA to discuss theAFA‘s initial interests in a food hub and then with Marsha Gibbs to present our initialresearch questions based on our understanding of the AFA‘s interests and goals. In May2011, the research team met with other member of the AFA at their monthly meeting, asan opportunity get feedback on our process and re-align our research with the AFA‘sneeds. To close the process, the research team presented their findings andrecommendations to the AFA at their June 2011 meeting.Methodological ApproachThroughout this assessment, the research team attempts to balance the goal of a holisticassessment with targeted and strategic analysis of primary segments of the food system,including production, processing, distribution, retail, and consumption. Due to constraintsof time and resources, this assessment does not include an analysis of waste removal andrecycling, and the authors make no claims to exhaustive or definitive data collection.Rather, the assessment provides a well-balanced ―snapshot‖ of the state of the local foodsystem.Scope/ScaleIn terms of time, this assessment looks back and forward, but only slightly. While westrongly believe a historical understanding of the region and a constant look to the futureare essential in food system planning, constraints in our own time necessitate that themajority of this analysis looks at the present conditions only. In terms of the geographic 11
  12. 12. region, primary attention is given to Yolo and Solano Counties, but the report includesbrief references to other areas including the greater Sacramento Region, the Bay Area,and California, as a whole. Given the research team‘s location at UC Davis, theassessment admittedly provides more personal knowledge and perspective within YoloCounty, although the report tries to give equal attention to the two counties.MethodsThe assessment highlights quantitative data from numerous secondary data sourcesincluded in the bibliography. The research team compiled a significant amount of datathrough thorough Internet research in the processing, distribution, and retail sectionswhen official data sources were unavailable. Finally, this report includes a limitedamount of primary data that is qualitative in nature, collected through informalinterviews, guest lectures, and conversations with food system actors in the region. Thisqualitative data is meant to provide glimpses into the lived realities of local food systemactors and a deeper understanding of the kinds of opportunities and challenges availableto them. Profile of Yolo & Solano Counties Yolo and Solano Counties are located in northern California between San Francisco and Sacramento. After the California gold rush, agriculture emerged as the main industry in these counties. Even today, the region dominates the national market for canning and processed tomatoes (Yolo County history, 2011; Solano County history, 2011). Demographics Yolo County has a population of 200,709 residents (Yolo County‘s statistical and demographic profile, 2010). The county contains four incorporated cities 12
  13. 13. (Davis, West Sacramento, Winters, and Woodland) and several unincorporatedcommunities (Rumsey, Guinda, Capay, Brooks, Madison, Zamora, Dunnigan, KnightsLanding, Clarksburg). With a population of 66,005, Davis is the largest city in YoloCounty, but Woodland (population 56,399) is the county seat.Solano County‘s main cities include Benicia, Vallejo, Suisun City, Dixon, Vacaville, RioVista, and Fairfield (Solano County history, 2011). As of 2010, Solano County had apopulation of 427,837 residents. With a population of 121,435 residents, Vallejo is thelargest city in Solano County. Basic demographic indicators for Yolo and SolanoCounties have been summarized in the following table: Yolo County Solano County California Population 200,709 427,837 37,253,956 Population density 166 476 234 (people per sq. mile) Racial composition 67.7% White 63.5% White 61.3% White 25.9% Hispanic 22.8% Hispanic 36.1% Hispanic 9.9% Asian 15.3% African American 12.3% Asian 2% African American 14% Asian 6.2% African 1.2% Native American 1% Native American American 0.3% Pacific Islander 0.9% Pacific Islander 2.2% Multiracial 5.2% Multiracial 5.1% Multiracial 0.8% Native American 0.4% Pacific Islander English as a first 68.5% 76% 57.6% language Number of households 60,000 130,000 35,464,229 Average household 2.71 people 2.9 people 2.91 people size Median age 30 years 34 years 34.6 years Age profile 25.3% under 18 28.3% under 18 24.6% under 18 65.3% between 18-64 62.2% between 18-64 64.5% between 18-64 9.4% over 65 9.5% over 65 10.9% over 65Data sources: American FactFinder, 2000; Solano County QuickFacts, 2010. 13
  14. 14. Income and EmploymentThe median household income in Yolo County is $40,769. The median income forfemales is $30,687, while the median income for males is $38,022. 18.4% of thepopulation and 9.5% of families are below the poverty line. The top ten employers inYolo County are as follows: UC Davis, Cache Creek Casino Resort, U.S. Postal Service,State of California, Yolo County, United Parcel Service, Target Corporation, Raley‘sInc., Woodland Healthcare, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. As of 2008, the unemployment ratein Yolo County was 6.7% (Community economic development hot report, 2011).In Solano County, the median household income is $54,099. The median income is about30% higher for males than females; the median income for females is $31,916, while themedian income for males is $41,787. About 8% of the population and 6% of families arebelow the poverty line. As of 2004, the unemployment rate in Solano County was 5.9%.The top ten industries (by number of employees) included the following: general medicaland surgical hospitals, limited-service eating places, full-service restaurants, physicianoffices, grocery stores, department stores, exterior contractors, employment services,building equipment contractors, and residential building construction (Communityeconomic development hot report, 2011).Land Use and AgricultureYolo County has a total area of 654,650 acres, of which 553,161 acres (84.4%) aredevoted to agricultural purposes (as of 2000). Only 25,957 acres (4%) are urban andbuilt-up land (Richter, 2009). The gross value of agriculture was $462.1 million in 2009(a decrease of nearly $40 million from the previous year). As of 2007, Yolo County had983 farms, of which 83 were registered organic farms. The average farm size was 488acres. The top ten crops in 2009 (in order of value) were as follows: processing tomatoes($127.8 million), wine grapes ($56.4 million), rice ($53.5 million), seed crops ($33.4million), alfalfa ($30.0 million), almonds ($25.0 million), organic produce ($22.8million), walnuts ($19.2 million), cattle and calves ($12.8 million), and wheat ($11.7million) (Yolo County agricultural crop report, 2009). 14
  15. 15. Map sources: Map of Yolo County, 2008; Map of Solano County, n.d.; and Benbennick,2011.Solano County has a total area of 909.4 square miles, of which 357,816 acres (61.4%) areagricultural land (61.4%). The urban and built-up land occupy only 59,157 acres (10.2%).Solano County ranks 26th out of 58 California counties in terms of agriculturalproduction, and the gross value of agriculture was $251.9 million in 2009 (a decrease ofnearly $40 million from the previous year). The average farm size was 403 acres in 2007.Farmers in the county produced over 80 different crops in 2009. The top ten crops (inorder of value) were as follows: processing tomatoes ($39.4 million), nursery products($33.5 million), walnuts ($21.1 million), alfalfa ($20.4 million), cattle and calves ($19.9million), wine grapes ($12.2 million), certified sunflower seed ($10.8 million), milk($10.2 million), almonds ($7.7 million), sheep and lambs ($6.4 million), and field corn($5.7 million). Solano County exported its agricultural products to over 40 differentcountries in 2009. The distribution of farm acreage in Solano County is as follows:pasture and rangeland (57.2%), field crops (25.5%), fruit and nut crops (5.3%), vegetablecrops (4.1%), seed crops (3.1%), nursery stock (0.3%), and other (4.5%). 30 farms onabout 1,404 acres grew certified organic crops in 2009. Their approximate value was $7.2million in 2009 (Solano County 2009 crop and livestock report, 2009). 15
  16. 16. Chapter 1: Food Hub AnalysisFor several years, non-profit food and agriculture organizations have studied food hubsand devoted resources to their establishment. In support of these efforts, the USDA hassponsored studies of food hubs and directed funding streams towards food hubinfrastructure through the ―Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food‖ (KFY2) initiativewhich seeks to strengthen local and regional food systems. An Economic ResearchService study (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2010) confirmed what grassrootsorganizations like the Ag and Food Alliance (AFA) has understood for many years: thereare significant identifiable barriers to local food market entry and expansion, includingcapacity constraints for farms, a lack of infrastructure for moving local food intomainstream markets, and regulatory uncertainties.The design, organization, and function of a food hub can vary tremendously based onmyriad factors, including: goals, target market, infrastructure, start-up funds,organizational management experience, and existing relationships. This portion of thereport first provides a general typology of existing food hubs, including their dominantcharacteristics as well as their chief benefits and risks (see Table 1, pp. 19-20). Lastly,this section briefly outlines the various contexts to consider while examining the potentialof a local food hub. Overall, the goal of this section is to provide a framework to guidethe planning of a food hub in Yolo and Solano Counties.While we will discuss the complexities of defining a food hub in greater detail further onin this section, the UC Davis research team offers the following working definition as astarting point. A food hub is a physical site for aggregation, storage, light processing, anddistribution of food products from small- to mid-scale farmswithin a region. Additionally, food hubs can foster economic vitality, equity (socialwelfare of farm workers and consumers) and environmental sustainability in a region.Food Hub Design and TrendsRecent discussion around food hubs has generated widespread attention and interest.Many farmers and non-profits, for example, are interested in the concept but often lackadequate understanding of their complexities. In an attempt to better understand and 16
  17. 17. support food hubs, the Regional Food Hub Subcommittee of the USDA‘s Know YourFarmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) is involved with various initiatives, such as: outliningbasic models and benefits of food hubs, surveying and creating a database of existingfood hubs, supplying case studies of different models, and identifying potential USDAfunding sources for food hubs.At a statewide level, the Regional Food Hub Advisory Council (of California) advocatesfor the establishment of a food hub parent organization that ―networks regional foodaggregators and distributors into a system that expands marketing opportunities, reducesrisk, and increases access to food—a network of Regional Food Hubs‖ (Regional FoodHub Advisory Council, 2010).Leveraging the work of these two groups, the following section examines the functionsand a basic typology of food hubs including benefits and risks, results from a nationalfood hub survey, and a synopsis of the vision statement and strategic vision plan for aregional food hub network in California.Basic Functions of a Food HubRegardless of the model, the KFY2 food hub committee highlights four potential (andcommon) functions of regional food hubs: 1. Aggregation/distribution A hub can operate as a drop-off point for multiple farmers and/or a pick up point for distributors/wholesalers/retailers who want to buy source-identified local and regional food. 2. Active coordination KYF2 suggests that a hub needs a ―business management team‖ that actively coordinates various supply chain logistics such as: identifying markets for producers and coordinating efforts with distributors, processors, buyers, consumers, etc. 3. Permanent facilities There must be some identified space and equipment for food to be stored, processed, packed, palletized, labeled, etc. (An exception to 17
  18. 18. this is a virtual hub, which can serve as an online directory, database, and/or marketplace) 4. Other possible roles tied to community services A hub can provide space for: wholesale and retail vending, health and/or social service programs, community kitchens, meetings, etc.Additionally, the committee identifies the following potential benefits of food hubs:expanded market opportunities for agricultural producers, job creation (in both urban andrural areas), and increased consumer access to fresh and healthy food (with a strongpotential to reach underserved areas). Food hubs can often bring these benefits, whichextend well beyond their immediate economic impact, to rural and urban communitiesthat suffer from lower incomes and underdevelopment.Basic Typology and Benefits/Risks of Different Food Hub ModelsThe Food Hub Subcommittee of KYF2 proposes a basic food hub ―typology‖ whichincludes the following food hub types: non-profit driven models, producer/entrepreneurmodels, state-driven models (such as ―State Farmers Markets‖), wholesale/retail drivenmodels, consumer driven models (online buying clubs), and ―virtual‖ food hubs (onlinematchmaking platforms) (USDA, 2011).2 Hybrids of these typologies are also possible.Table 1 summarizes the benefits and risks of each model.2 The ―Food Hub‖ Model examples vary within two presentations created by the subcommittee; astandard/set typology has not yet been created. The USDA is working on developing a typology tool thatwill help farmers identify what model food hub would best serve their needs as a producer. (The two KYF2presentations can be found here and here) 18
  19. 19. Table 1: Basic Typology of Food HubsModel type Benefits Risks ExamplesNon-profit driven  More likely to attain grant funding  May not have the business or Alba Organics (CA), Growers  More likely to focus on community technical background Collaborative (CA), Intervale Center development aspects of food system necessary to create a viable (VT), Red Tomato (MA), Appalachian (e.g. needs of low-income operation Sustainable Development (VA) produces/consumers)  Once seed funding has exhausted, may face difficulty with economic viabilityProducer/  More likely to have adequate  May not have necessary seed Farm Shop (CA), Grasshopper (KY),entrepreneur business/technical background funding Good Natured Family Farms (KS),  More likely to have solid knowledge  May not focus on normative Tuscarora Organic Growers (PA), New of local food systems criteria (mentioned in Noth Florida Cooperative (FL), Eastern  Likely to feel a high level of Introduction) Carolina Organics (NC) ―investment‖ in the success of the hub because personal economic viability is involvedState-driven  Potentially more stable (than  With shrinking budgets for Many ―State Farmers Markets‖ in the previous two) if a steady flow of local governments, securing Southeast and Midwest, such as NC, funding is secured state-driven support/funding SC, MI, FL  Coordination with other relevant may be difficult government agencies may lessen ―red  May not have relationships tape‖ (e.g. coordination with with necessary actors (farmers, Planning Department and Agriculture processors, etc.) Commission)  Local government has vested interest in stimulating local economy  Likely to focus on normative criteriaWholesale/  More likely to have business savvy  May not focus on normative Davis and Sacramento Natural FoodRetail and existing connections to criteria Co-Ops (CA), San Mateo Farmers consumers and producers  Governance structure can vary Market (CA), La Montanita Food Coop  May have existing infrastructure dramatically; (NM), Wedge‘s Coop Partners (MN), administration/coordination Hunts Point Wholesale Farmers Market model must be identified early (NYC) on
  20. 20. Consumer-driven  Reflects existing consumer demand  May not have necessary Oklahoma Food Coop, Nebraska Food  Often a way to connect consumers business/agriculture Coop, Iowa Food Coop and producers with limited use of background necessary to ―middle-men‖ initiate/operate business  If sole purpose of hub is exchange,  Will need to identify who will there will be limited infrastructure be responsible for coordination needs  May not have relationships with necessary actors (farmers, processors, etc.) so the hub will need to identify partners along the food system chain depending on needs/wants of hub  May not focus on normative criteria―Virtual‖  No (or limited) new infrastructure  Governance—who would Ecotrust (OR), FarmsReach (CA), costs operate this model type? MarketMaker (Multiple states)  High amounts of information  May not focus on normative available online criteria  Can connect producers and buyers ―real-time‖ and in a way that can be easily tracked, processed (paid), and recorded online
  21. 21. Results from Survey of Existing Food HubsThe USDA is also a member of the Regional Food Hub Collaboration (USDA AMS, WallaceCenter, National Good Food Network, Project for Public Spaces, and National Association ofProduce Market Managers). In early 2011, this group circulated a survey to better understand thescope and scale of regional food hubs throughout the country. The survey was sent to 72 foodhubs and completed by 45.According to the survey results, the ―archetypal‖ food hub (USDA, 2011):  Offers a wide range of food products, with fresh produce being its main product  Sells through various marketing channels, with restaurants being an important entry point  Offers a wide range of services to both producers and consumers  Gross annual sales are around $700k. Even with these sales figures, the hub must rely on some external support to cover a portion of its services and activitiesAdditional survey results, including various statistics and charts, can be found in Appendix A.Sample Profiles of Existing HubsTo offer a few concrete examples, below are profiles of three existing food hubs withsignificantly different models. While only one of the food hubs is located in California, the UCDavis research team felt the selected cases were still relevant to Yolo and Solano Counties. 3Alba Organics (AO)Salinas, CA- Monterey County (Rural)http://www.albafarmers.org/index.htmlOwnership: Non-profit3 The information and structure of the Alba profile is borrowed from the Regional Food Hub Advisory reportreferenced in the Bibliography 21
  22. 22. Mission: to advance economic viability, social equity and ecological land management amonglimited-resource and aspiring farmers. In pursuing its mission, ALBA aims to contribute to amore just and sustainable food system through the development of: 1) human resources that willbe tomorrow‘s farmers and sustainable agriculture leaders; 2) growing marketing alternatives forsmall-scale, limited-resource farmers; and 3) the enhancement of biological diversity andprotection of natural resources – all necessary components of such a food system.  Alba‘s mission statement offers an example of how to integrate concerns regarding equity, economics, and the environment into the structure and goals of a food hub.Participating farmers: 30-50 (currently at 49, per the AO website)Operations and Management: AO essentially operates as a wholesale distributor, buyingproduct from farmers and then labeling and selling this source-verified, certified organic productto customers.Aggregation Point: a 3000 ft2 facility and 110-acre farm near Salinas. The facility includes:  Outdoor covered washing station with sink  Receiving area  15oo sq. ft. dry storage (non‐ cooled),  800 sq. ft. cold storage and 800 sq. ft. medium‐ cold storage for products needing humidity  Forced air cooler  Forklift  2 delivery trucksCustomers: various institutions (universities, K-12 school districts, hospitals, etc.), wholesaledistributors, retailers, and restaurants. AO does not participate with direct marketing.Community Oriented Programs:  Provides education and technical assistance to its beginning and limited‐ resource grower vendors as part of its business model.
  23. 23.  Working on programs to sell to corner stores in low‐ income and underserved communities  Works with Community Alliance of Family Farmers (CAFF) to support the Harvest of the Month program for area schools.FoodHubVirtual (No set geography, however, membership is open to food buyers and sellersin Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Montana, Idaho, and California.)http://food-hub.org/Ownership: non-profit project of Eco-Trust but moving towards for-profit status in the comingmonthsMission: FoodHub is a dynamic marketplace and online directory that makes it easy andefficient for professional food buyers and sellers to research, connect, and do business. It‘s easyto use and a great place to meet and do business over food.Sellers: there are hundreds of organic and conventional sellers, including: farmers, ranchers,fishermen, dairies, brewers, distilleries, wineries, processors/manufacturers, brokers, andwholesale distributors.Operations and Management: FoodHub supports a wide variety of distribution models–ranging from sellers who use their own trucks to those who rely on the services of mainlinedistributors. Once a connection is made via FoodHub, buyer and seller negotiate pricing andorder details, execute the transaction and coordinate the exchange of goods independently. Thereare no transaction fees associated with making connections on FoodHub. Currently there are nomembership fees but FoodHub will be launching a tiered monthly membership starting in thesummer. 23
  24. 24. Aggregation Point: FoodHub offers an online matchmaking platform that includes acomprehensive catalog of buyers and sellers, online space for buyer and seller profiles, and aninteractive directory that facilitates easy searching/navigation.Customers: Bakery, B&B, buying club, caterer, college or university, culinary school, foodbank or food assistance program, food service contractor, grocer, healthcare facility, hotel, motel,resort, packer/processor, personal chef, restaurant, school or specialty retailer.Community Oriented Programs: The FoodHub focuses primarily on the membershipcommunity. However, its initiatives do have the potential to have positive environmental andsocial impacts. FoodHub Knowledge Base, a resource for buyers and sellers, will be launched inthe near feature. It will include a comprehensive database with information on sourcing locally,food safety, running a sustainable kitchen, different sources of direct marketing, and so forth.Given FoodHub‘s tie to EcoTrust, it aims to promote environmental sustainability and equitythrough its initiatives.La Montanita Co-Op Food MarketNew Mexico, with four retail locations in urban areashttp://www.lamontanita.coop/Ownership: Consumer co-operativeMission: La Montanita is committed to local farmers and producers, its members, and thebroader community. The Co-op emphasizes ―Fresh‖, ―Fair‖, and ―Local.‖Producers: nearly 700 local producersOperations and Management: Co-op is a regional distributor for national brands, which helpscover the overhead costs of maintaining warehouse and distribution services. It currently stocksand sells 1,100 products from local growers and producers. The co-op provides the following to
  25. 25. growers/producers: bulk purchase inputs/farm supplies, storage space, distribution services,market outlets, and business development services.Aggregation Point: In 2006, the Co-op invested $150,000 in renovating a warehouse andleading trucks to assist regional growers with distribution and wholesale market coordination.Customers: 15,000 membersCommunity Oriented Programs: The co-op sponsors and participates in a wide variety ofcommunity events. They recently started a ―pre-payment‖ for product loans to farmers, ranchersand local producers who sell to the co-op. Requests for the loans extended beyond what the co-op could do on its own so now with the approval of the New Mexico State Securities Division,co-op members can contribute to the loans as well.Food Hub DefinitionThe growing interest in ―food hubs‖ and the various models already in existence result in avariety of definitions of the term. A food hub to one organization can represent somethingentirely different to another. Food hub feasibility analysis should develop, as a first step, fromconsensus for a cohesive and descriptive definition of food hub. A shared definition improvescommunication within the organization and eases the difficulty of creating a clearly definedproblem statement. Without a strong problem statement, project design can diverge from theoriginal planning goals. This section of the report examines the conceptual complexity of foodhubs according to the following questions:  What are some of the different definitions of ―food hub‖? And what are the implications of these definitions for a food hub?  What are the various characteristics (size, governance structure, market, etc.) of existing food hubs? 25
  26. 26. The discussion reveals some of the problems with current definitions. This analysis seeks toprompt an intensive discussion within the AFA about the food hub that best suits the goals andvalues of the AFA membership. The authors, as students of community development, suggestthat a participatory process offers a way to obtain a shared definition and a clear problemstatement. To this end, this section of the report also includes a participatory exercise for theAFA to facilitate the development of a collective food hub definition. This exercise uses a seriesof questions to direct a focused discussion about the desired range of functions andcharacteristics of a food hub that is appropriate for both the Yolo County as a region and theAFA as an organization.The following section examines and critiques two different definitions of ―food hub‖ in order toillustrate their complex and varying roles. The research team suggests that these carry embeddedvalues and implicit assumptions that require careful analysis prior to any planning and designeffort.The first definition comes from the USDA ―Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food‖ (KFY2)program which defines a food hub as a centrally located facility with a business managementstructure that facilitates the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and marketing oflocally and regionally produced food products.  Centrally located facility suggests not only that the food hub is a physical place but also that the distance between producers and consumers is minimized, thus decreasing the environmental and economic costs associated with transportation and distribution. This aspect of the definition will require further analysis when the discussion turns to ―virtual food hubs‖ in the section on food hub types.  Business management structure implies a focus on commerce, the need or desire for food hub participants to make cash transactions, and presumably to realize profits and savings. A business management structure differs significantly from other forms of management such as organizational, institutional, or bureaucratic. These others apply to government, not-for profit, or in-house enterprises that may strive for efficiency but not profits per se. The emphasis on commerce bears on further discussion about the desired function of food hub types. The KFY2
  27. 27. definition raises the possibility that both non-profit partnerships and government management of food hubs may not receive adequate consideration.  Aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and marketing would seem to set clearly defined limits to the direct activities of a food hub within a food system. However, roles and responsibilities of food hubs are not always clear-cut. For example, what responsibilities for monitoring food production practices attach to a food hub when its marketing efforts make warranties of sustainability about farm worker labor conditions? When a non-profit food bank leverages the formation of a food hub, how is this contribution quantified and repaid and how are the organizational resources of the food hub deployed equitably?  “Local and regional food products” is an inherently spatial concept that ultimately describes the physical distance between producers and consumers. Yet, within the local food movement (of which the AFA is a participant), the term local means a great deal more than a spatial characteristic. In this regard, the local food movements typically value small, sole proprietorships over large, publicly traded operations; organic over conventional production; fair labor practices over the current standards; and distribution through informal or open alternative channels as opposed to restrictive high volume supply chains. Therefore, the term ―local‖ often means much more than its literal description of proximity.The second definition comes from the Regional Food Hub Advisory Council, which defines aregional food hub as an integrated food distribution system that coordinates agriculturalproduction and the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and marketing of locally orregionally produced food products (2010).The RFHAC definition uses many of the same words as the KYF2 definition but does carry someimportant nuances.  The phrase food distribution system differs from the physical place based idea of a centrally located facility used by the KYF2 definition. However, the RFHAC definition does not specify the organization of the food hub as the KFY2 definition does with the phrase business management structure. 27
  28. 28.  Coordinates is the dominant action that describes the primary function of the food hub. Although the definition specifies the scope of the activities to be coordinated, the definition does not explain either the manner of the coordination (i.e., how) or the purpose (i.e., why) beyond the vague description ―distribution.‖ By contrast, the KFY2 definition may be overly specific and narrow in regard to the ―how‖ and the ―why‖ in identifying a business management structure.The lack of specificity in the RFHAC definition leaves open ways for potentially undesirableproduction and management practices that run counter to the RFHAC vision of environmental,economic, and social equity within the food system. What activities involving food would theRFHAC definition necessarily exclude from the definition of a food hub? The RFHACdocument provides a more definitive set of concepts in the following passage: Regional food hubs (RFHs) share common goals of serving small to mid-sized farmers and supporting the growth of regional food systems. All of the profiled RFHs also work to improve food security or provide educational opportunities relating to the food system. While RFHs ostensibly exist in order to make farming more profitable for their growers, the case studies showed that they also make distinct efforts to support their communities in ways that don‘t provide direct economic gains. Additionally, RFHs have the same basic infrastructure needs, and are all driven to promote their products. They also share a common struggle to find and maintain appropriate markets, match supply and demand, and overcome logistical obstacles.This passage seems to offer a more complete definition that articulates many of the objectives,rationales, and values that have made food hubs into a common cause for many organizations inthe local food movement. In this regard, the passage offers a more descriptive and usefuldefinition of a food hub than the one discussed previously.A Food Hub Definition for the AFA and the Yolo County RegionThe preceding discussion describes both the difficulty and the lack of universality in food hubdefinitions. The critique of the definitions illustrates the importance of a clear conception of theorganizational structure and function of a food hub. While a definition is only an abstract idea,the process of creating ideas that define a vision for the future through a collaborative processcan be a powerful way for a group to gain a new understanding of itself and see new possibilitieswhere before only obstacles existed. To this end, the research team created a group exercise to
  29. 29. assist the AFA in creating its own definition or mission statement for a food hub. The exercisechallenges participants to consider the variety of values that underlie the group‘s definition.Directions for running the exercise and its associated questions appear in Appendix B. The AFAfood hub subcommittee could test the exercise at an upcoming meeting. If the exercise seemsuseful, then the subcommittee can consider whether to bring it before the general membership.Food Hub ContextThere are a few different ―contexts‖ to consider when analyzing what type of food hub wouldbest serve Yolo and Solano Counties. First, there is the local food system context, whichconsiders the strengths and weaknesses of the local and regional food system. Second, there is ahistorical context to consider. What can be learned from past (and current) attempts at food hubswithin the region? Third, it is important to think about scalar context. How would a food hub fitwithin the region and beyond? Lastly, it is important to consider the various relationships that arenecessary to operate a successful food hub. How would a local food hub partner or compete withexisting food hubs, farmers, and other organizations in the region and beyond?The countless variations of food hubs illustrated by the research of the USDA and others indicatethe significance of aligning a food hub‘s functions and services with the needs and assets of thelocal and regional food system. The success of a food hub in Yolo and Solano Counties will relyupon its ability to leverage the strengths, expertise, and gaps within the local food system (manyof which are outlined in this report.)In addition to defining the goals and needs of a food hub within the context of the local foodsystem, it is crucial to understand current and previous attempts of food hubs within Yolo andSolano Counties. The UC Davis research team did not have adequate time to conduct a historicalanalysis of local food hubs but the current work of Shermain Hardesty and Penny Leff, andLibby O‘Sullivan will shed light on some of these histories. Shermain Hardesty and Penny Leffhave recently completed systematic interviews with multiple stakeholders involved with YoCalProduce Cooperative and Tuscarora Organic Growers (from Pennsylvania). Hardesty and Leff 29
  30. 30. will conduct a Yolo County workshop (―Collaborating to Access New Markets‖) on Wednesday,June 29, 2011 to share their results. In addition, Libby O‘Sullivan conducted an analysis of threedifferent attempts of aggregation in the region, including YoCal, Growers Collaborative, and TheHub (O‘Sullivan, forthcoming).Additionally, a food hub‘s scalar context deserves consideration: how would a local food hub fitinto Yolo County, Solano County, surrounding regions, the state of California, and so on? TheRegional Food Hub Advisory Council, consisting of producers and non-profits from California,believes that a network of food hubs offers the most effective means to serve small to mid-sizedfarmers and support the growth of regional food systems. They envision a Food Hub Networkthat will ―provide assistance in business management and services that will amplify the successand impact of individual hubs . . . and serve and support autonomous Regional Food Hubsthrough inter-hub brokerage, access to infrastructure, technical assistance, and networkingrelated hub operations in order to bolster the scale, predictability ad success of regional foodproduction, sales, and consumption‖ (Regional Food Hub Advisory Council, 2010). TheNetwork would be membership-based non-profit serving for-profit food hubs. Although thefeasibility study and business plan have not yet been developed, the thought is that the value andefficiency provided by the Network would make membership economically viable forparticipating hubs. The Advisory Council aims to secure funding in 2011 so it can complete afeasibility study and business plan in 2012-2013.Regardless of whether collaboration occurs through a formalized network, collaboration andcommunication is significant. If two developing hubs within the same region, for example, aretargeting the same producers and consumers, challenges are bound to arise. Rather than creatingcompetitive zero sum situations, collaboration and planning could enhance the efficiency andsuccess of regional food hubs through sharing knowledge, networks, products, and so forth.Some markets may not be able support more than one food hub. Preferably, comparativeadvantage would drive competing food hubs to specialize and create new market niches. Ideally,these new markets will sustain additional non-economic benefits to the local food system (e.g.,improved access for low-income people, higher demand for organic produce, etc.) Equallyimportant are the relationships that the hub will share with other involved parties, including
  31. 31. farmers, local businesses, consumers, and so forth. As noted by Agriculture Deputy SecretaryKathleen Merrigan, food hubs are incredibly innovative business models that ―rely oncooperation instead of competition, and ensure that the regional small and midsize producers getaccess to the infrastructure they need‖ (2011).SummaryWhile effort has been devoted to understanding the various forms of food hubs, very little isknown about key factors to their success. However, what is clear is the importance ofunderstanding the context of a food hub in Yolo and Solano Counties, including: its desireddesign and goals, the characteristics of the local food system, current and past attempts of foodhubs within the region, a food hub‘s scalar context, and various relationships impacting thesuccess of a food hub. The AFA must understand all of these aspects while considering thecreation of a local food hub. Chapter 2 provides an analysis of the production, distribution,processing, consumption, and retail of Yolo and Solano Counties. The data provides specificbackground information which can answer critical conceptual questions about the feasibility of anew food hub organization. 31
  32. 32. Chapter 2: Yolo County Food System AssessmentProductionThis section discusses production in Yolo and Solano counties. The first section gives anoverview of agricultural land use in the counties, including a brief historical account and currenttrends. The second section describes characteristics of farms in Yolo and Solano counties with afocus on organic agriculture. The final section presents some of the opportunities and challengesfor growers in Yolo and Solano Counties, and offers recommendations for further researchrelated to production.Agricultural Land-Use in Yolo and Solano: An OverviewYolo CountyYolo County can be divided into 16 different geographical regions. The agricultural productionchanges from east to west, with significant differences in land use, crops, and agriculturaleconomics. It is helpful to understand the overall picture in order to address the issues that small-scale farmers face in Yolo County (Richter, 2009).Table 1: *2006 FMMP Study: Land Classification in Yolo County (Richter, 2009)Category AcresPrime Farmland: 257,892Unique Farmland/Farmland of Statewide Importance 67,187Farmland of Local Potential 21,958Farmland of Local Importance 43,213Grazing land 150,338Urban/Built-Up land 29,341Other Land (habitat/conservation) 75,705Water 7,815* The Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program (FMMP) within the California Department of Conservation produces periodicreports on changes in farmland and urban development. The latest report was produced in 2006. See Appendix C for categorydefinitions.
  33. 33. The overall number of acres of farmland /grazing land is five times greater than the urban/builtland in Yolo County. The majority of the farmland in Yolo County is prime farmland. Table 1illustrates the importance of conservation of unique farmland and utilization of prime farmlandfor agricultural purposes.Table 2: Yolo County Production Regions/Crops Produced Top 6 Production Acres %Total Value % Total Value Regions: Top Crops Acreage (millions) Produced in that RegionBlue Ridge: Pasture 166,178 29% 17 3%Yolo East: Tomatoes, 69,197 12% 111 21%AlfalfaClarksburg: Chardonnay 31,784 5% 102 19%wine grapes, alfalfaYolo West: Alfalfa, 41,925 7% 61 11%Processing TomatoesRiver Garden: Rice, 39,492 7% 55 10%Processing Tomatoes,Yolo Bypass: Rice 60,925 10% 35 6%Capay Valley: Organic 27,423 5% 23 4%Vegetables, Tree CropsData from National Agricultural Statistics Service quick stats, 2009Table 2 illustrates the diversity of the crops grown in Yolo County as well as the land usepatterns across the county. See Appendix D for an illustration of geographical agriculture regionsin Yolo County and crops produced in those regions. 33
  34. 34. Statistical Overview of Farms by County Total # of Farm # Of Organic # Small # Small Scale Farms Average # Operators: Yolo Farms Family with less than Years as County Farms $100,000/yr profit FarmCounty OperatorYolo 1647 54 740 77 19Solano 1456 28 732 84 18.3Data National Agricultural Statistics Service quick stats, 2009Yolo County has the highest number of organic farms in the Sacramento Valley Region(Klonsky & Richter, 2011).For a map showing the delineations of farm sizes in Yolo County, see Appendix F.For a comprehensive table of USDA farm typology definitions (Hoppe et al., 2000), seeAppendix E.Crop Trends: 1939 – 2009Yolo CountyThe top crops in Yolo County have changed over the past 50 years, but a few agriculture cropshave been mainstays in terms of production and value. Yolo has a significant amount of landdedicated to pasture and cattle grazing, and simultaneously devotes a high percentage of land foralfalfa production. Yolo has always been well known for producing tree crops, notably walnutsand almonds. This trend continues today, with only a few areas in east Yolo replacing tomatofields with permanent trees for nut crops (Richter, 2009).Yolo County used to be a large sugar beet producer, but that changed in the 1980s, whentomatoes replaced beets as the top crop. In the latest crop report, Yolo County‘s agriculturalproduction was valued at $462,132,949 (2009). This is ranked 21st in the state in terms of salesvalue (National Agricultural Statistics Service quick stats, 2009). The highest amount of acreagewas devoted to tomatoes, pasture, and alfalfa. The highest valued crops in 2009 were tomatoes,
  35. 35. wine grapes, seed crops (sunflower and safflower), alfalfa, and almonds (Yolo Countyagricultural crop report, 2009).Table 3: Number of farms, average farm size in acres and median farm size in acres, YoloCounty, Source: 2007 Agriculture CensusNumber of Farms 983Average size of farm, acres 488Median size of farm, acres 60Number of Yolo State of CAFarms by CountySize1-9 acres 15 3110-49 acres 32 3550-179 21 16180-499 15 9500-999 7 41,000 + 11 5As Table 3 illustrates, Yolo County has a higher percentage of farms with more than 1,000 acresthan California as a whole. The median farm size is 60 acres. Overall, Yolo County isrepresented by a large number of small-scale growers (under 50 acres) and large-scale growers(over 1,000 acres).In Yolo County, one recent trend has been to promote agricultural tourism. Two potentialagricultural tourism areas are the Clarksburg and Capay Valley regions (Richter, 2009). There isconsiderable interest in establishing the Clarksburg region as a center for agri-tourism.Clarksburg is geographically separated from the majority of the commodity agriculture in YoloCounty, yet the majority of the agricultural acreage in the region is currently used forcommercial commodity production; therefore any agri- tourism developments in the Clarksburgregion must incorporate existing commodity agricultural production.The Capay Valley is a well known agricultural tourism area, focusing on the theme of showingconsumers ―where your food comes from.‖ The agri-tourism movement here has promise if 35
  36. 36. more farms were included in the events and the number of events was increased, as long at itwould not affect the farmers‘ production levels (Richter, 2009).Solano CountySolano agriculture shows similar trends to Yolo, but Solano does not produce the same amountof tree crops as Yolo. After Solano County phased out of sugar beet production, the top valuecrops have been tomatoes, alfalfa, and nursery products for the past 10 years. A significantportion (57.2 %) of the land in Solano County is devoted to pasture and rangeland for cattle. Thelatest crop report valued Solano‘s agricultural production at $292,840,200 (2009).See Appendix G for a map of Solano Agriculture Regions.Organic AgricultureData about organic production in California generally and Yolo and Solano Counties inparticular is not easy to obtain because there is limited reporting, and growers often combineorganic and conventional production. The annual County Commissioners crop reports, whichbegan in 1939, did not delineate specific statistics about organic agriculture until the late 1990s.They do report the overall value and acreage by county, not the specific crops grown organicallyin the county.Yolo CountyThe majority of organic acreage in Yolo County is dedicated to tree, fruit and field crops. Themain organic growing regions of Yolo are Capay Valley, Hungry Hollow, Clarksburg, andElkhorn. The Capay Valley is well known for diversified vegetable production, but the Elkhornregion also has a significant number of specialty organic vegetable producers. Additionally, theHungry Hollow has many large-scale organic growers that sell to the wholesale market. TheClarksburg region primarily grows organic grapes, which are processed outside of Yolo Countyin combination with other growers of Chardonnay grapes (Richter, 2009).
  37. 37. The acreage in Yolo County devoted to organic agriculture had an overall sharp increase in theperiod from 2005-2009 (Klonsky & Richter, 2011). The number of operators, however, remainedmostly steady over the same period, indicating an increase in the scale of agriculture andparalleling trends in agriculture as a whole. These figures point to the consolidation of farms inorganic agriculture in Yolo County. Sales in organic agriculture have also increased in the sameperiod, from $12,500,874 in 2005 to $23,292,205 in 2009 (Klonsky & Richter, 2011).Data retrieved from Klonsky & Richter, 2011.Solano CountyOrganic agriculture in Solano County, in contrast to Yolo County, represents a much smalleramount of the county‘s agricultural area. The number of operators and the number of acreageboth grew only slightly from 2005 to 2009, and never reached more than 1,400 acres in total. Asin Yolo County, the value of the crops sold increased over the four-year period measured, but thevalue of sales was much smaller in Solano County. The value of organic crops sold from SolanoCounty farms was $2,551,223 in 2005 and $6,982,128 in 2009 (Klonsky & Richter, 2011). 37
  38. 38. Data retrieved from Klonsky & Richter, 2011.Labor: An OverviewThere are five registered labor contractors in Yolo County. The registered contractors are; J&RLabor, Inc., Lara Labor Contractors, John Perez & Sons, and Reyes FLC (Richter, 2009). Thereare two registered labor contractors listed in Solano County, both of which are based in Dixon:Conrad Ruiz of Ruiz Farm Labor and Rosendo Mayoral of Mayoral Brothers (Farm laborcontractors‘ license database, 2011).Yolo County had 3,953 hired agricultural workers in 2007 according to the USDA. 1,928 ofthese workers were employed for fewer than 150 days of the year. 3,078 worked on farms with10 or more workers. Of the workers employed for greater than or equal to 150 days/year, 1,250of them worked on farms with laborers working both for more than 150 days and fewer than 150days/year, indicating that local farms need both full-time and temporary labor.
  39. 39. According to USDA, Solano County had 2,813 hired agricultural workers in 2007 (NationalAgricultural Statistics Service quick stats, 2009). 1,339 of those workers were employed forfewer than 150 days of the year. 2,171 of the total workers worked on a farm employing 10 ormore workers. Of the workers employed for more than 150 days/year, 690 of them are employedon farms hiring workers for greater than 150 days/year and fewer than 150 days.A caveat with all of these figures is that farm labor is notoriously difficult to count and usuallyunder-reported due to the high level of irregularity in farm employment. These are officialUSDA figures, but the reality of farm labor in Yolo and Solano counties probably lookssomewhat different.As Figure 1 illustrates, farm labor needs are medium to high for the production of mostcommodity crops, wine grapes, and diversified organic vegetables. Labor demand is low in theregions where pasture and livestock are the dominant forms of production. Most of thecommodity crops farms in Yolo (tomatoes, alfalfa, sunflower, wheat, rice) employ <2.5 workersper acre. 39
  40. 40. Figure 1 Labor Demand in Yolo CountySource: SACOG Rural Urban Connections Strategy ReportLocal Farmers: Opportunities and ChallengesMany of the local growers listed on websites devoted to local agriculture like Local Harvest andCommunity Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF)‘s Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaign specifythat they sell their produce to restaurants or farmers‘ markets in the San Francisco Bay Area orSacramento.
  41. 41. The Small Farm Center at the UC Davis conducted a survey that compared USDA data withproducer interviews and demonstrated that Yolo County is the leading county in the U.S. interms of consumer direct sales (Richter, 2009). This study shows promise for local interest in afood hub, but the study did not show the percentage of Yolo consumers purchasing the crops (i.e.most of the consumers could have been from the Bay Area).One small-scale farmer who was interviewed for the report stated that one of the currentchallenges facing his operation is: Keeping costs low, and getting a good price, but it’s not easy because it’s an agricultural area and everyone is producing pretty much the same thing. Organic growing needs to use expensive and intensive methods, the costs are high, so price to customers need to be higher. We need two to three times more customers to cover the costs.We also asked about whether he could identify current opportunities for his business. Heresponded as follows: We want to grow into an export market, the price for organic produce is very high overseas, and we can get a good price for oranges, broccoli, and the quality is good, by cutting out the middle man.This same farmer has a successful large CSA with the majority of his customers living in Yolo orSacramento. He would like to expand his market locally, but for him there is not a way toincrease his sales by marketing locally.Local beef producers are searching for ways to access niche markets outside of the traditionalcattle markets. Currently, there are no USDA and State inspected facilities for harvesting cattlein Yolo or Solano County. Recently, a group of University of California Cooperative Extensionspecialists surveyed over 400 livestock producers in Northern California to assess the demandfor a small-scale livestock processing facility (Richter, 2009). 41
  42. 42. SummaryHistorically, Yolo and Solano Counties have been large-scale commodity producers growingcrops for a non-local market. This changed in the 1970s, when organic farms started switchingtheir production to include diversified vegetable crops for markets in the Bay Area andSacramento. However, currently there are only two areas in Yolo County, Clarksburg and CapayValley, devoted primarily to this type of production, while the rest of the county continues togrow commodity crops for export. There are local tomato processing plants to serve tomatogrowers, local alfalfa production supports livestock production, and large-scale tree cropscontinue to garner good market prices. The current production picture of Yolo and SolanoCounties shows that medium to large scale growers of commodity crops have successful marketsystems. Further interviews with small scale farmers need to be conducted to determine thoseinterests in a food hub. As Table 3 illustrates, there are a large number of small-scale farmers inYolo County, and this population of growers should be targeted for assessing the level of interestin a food hub. Our preliminary findings show that growers may have difficulties marketingproduce locally because of limited outlets, but more interviews need to be conducted to makesure this is true for all of the small-scale farmers in Yolo and Solano.There are a few recent trends in both counties to switch to organic production for a wholesalemarket, but this typically serves customers outside of the area. The numbers of small-scalegrowers in Yolo and Solano could justify the formation of a food hub, but the consumer basewould likely be outside the county. Models that have proved successful in Yolo and Solanocounties for farmers include CSAs and agri-tourism. A food hub could build upon alreadyexisting popular agri-tourism areas, specifically the Capay Valley and Clarksburg winegrowingregions. Extending the reach of agri-tourism to include more small and medium-scale growerswould ensure more opportunities for farmers to build recognition for their farms. The greatestpossibility for success may lie in creating a stronger identity for the counties related to agri-tourism and organic production. This model has been successful in areas like Napa Valley, AppleHill, and Capay Valley in Yolo County. These examples provide a good local starting point, butmore of a concerted effort is necessary to take the burden off individual farmers and include allsmall-scale growers.
  43. 43. Food ProcessingIndustry OverviewFood processors purchase fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy products, and other raw foods that arethen manufactured to add a specific value; for instance, canning or freezing vegetables addsvalue by preserving and extending the shelf life of crops year-round. The procedure ofconverting a whole food into a prepared food product significantly increases an item‘s marketingpotential. ―Food processing has one of the highest economic impacts of all types ofmanufacturing activity and is strategically linked to other economic sectors, including tourism,biotechnology, packaging, environment, resource recovery and advertising‖ (Unger & Wooten,2006).Sometimes ―artisan,‖ small-scale food purveyors and entrepreneurs will perform onsiteharvesting, processing, or marketing of the final product; however, the bulk of the foodprocessing sector involves business relationships with other organizations that have thespecialized infrastructure to support processing, packaging, and distribution activities (Foodmanufacturing in California, 2010). The following types of industry groups serve as the majorplayers involved in food processing (Northern California Center of Excellence and the Office ofEconomic Development at Cerritos College, 2010):  Animal food  Grain and Oilseed  Sugar and Candy  Fruit and Vegetable  Specialty Foods  Dairy  Meat  Seafood  Bakeries and Tortillas  Beverages  Other Manufacturing (dressings, spices, etc.) 43
  44. 44. Yolo and Solano Processing Industry CompositionThe following section provides an overview of processing in Yolo and Solano Counties. Manyfood-processing plants have closed in the region (Rural-Urban Connections Strategy, 2008). Theclosing of the Hunt-Wesson tomato processing plant in Davis in 1999 resulted in the loss ofabout 620 full-time and seasonal jobs (Swett, 1999). In some cases, the loss of a processingfacility will cause farmers to cease growing a particular crop altogether (Rural-UrbanConnections Strategy, 2008). For example, sugar beets were once Yolo County‘s main crop. Dueto a combination of agricultural economic factors and low prices, the Spreckels sugar beetfactory closed in Clarksburg in 1993 causing Yolo County farmers to significantly decrease theacreage of sugar beets (Edwards, 2011; Spreckles Sugar, 2006). As stated in the Rural-UrbanConnections Strategy report, ―Such closures also eliminate direct and indirect processing jobs, aswell as the economic multiplier effect associated with those jobs and the facility (2008). Despitethe closure of the tomato processing plant in Davis, the region dominates the national market forcanning and processed tomatoes (Swett, 1999).A study entitled ―The Food Chain Cluster‖ recently published information regarding foodprocessing in Yolo and Solano Counties (Henton et. al., 2011). In addition to the addedeconomic return that processing offers for value added products, food processing also accountsfor a significant portion of the food industry labor market across the two counties. In 2008, thefood-processing sector of the labor market reported the highest annual employee earnings to be$52,722 and in 2009, food processing occupied the largest percentage of food system jobs acrossboth counties (23% of all workers), in addition to experiencing a 43% increase in employment inthe industry. In 2009, there were 297 small-scale food manufacturers in the Yolo-Solano Countyregion, defined as processors that have no employees and are run by one owner or partner. TheGDP for processing in both counties was $500 million (Henton et. al., 2011).On the educational front, UC Davis plans to offer a new food-processing teaching and researchfacility that will include the study of ―alternative food-processing methods and their nutritionaleffects, nutritional quality and shelf life of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables; nutritionalenhancements from food-processing ‗waste‘ products; and improved food formulations‖ (UC
  45. 45. Davis, 2010). This can be seen as an opportunity for local processors to have access to experteducation in post harvest chopping, packing, canning, cold storage, freezing, drying, and gradingtechniques. Private donations have funded the facility (UC Davis, 2010), representing privateinvestor interest in funding food processing development and endeavors within the built inreputation for food and agriculture that goes along with the region.Slow Food Yolo recently featured an exciting announcement for a potential opportunity with anupcoming custom meat processing facility, Manas Ranch (Slow Food Yolo, 2011). Manas islocated along Highway 16 and is capable of serving USDA inspected, state inspected, andcustom-exempt producers, processing commercially grown, organic grown, beef, lamb, pork andgoat in addition to wild game (Slow Food Yolo, 2011). Carcass aging, dry aging, meat cutting,meat processing, smoking, curing, freezing and vacuum-sealing are also offered (Slow FoodYolo, 2011). Given the high number of small-scale manufacturers in the region, there exists theopportunity for further research in order to identify and to locate these small-scale processingenterprises. The AFA must collectively decide how both large and small scale processors willintegrate into the AFA vision of a food hub as well as what scale processing they are interestedin expanding. The UCD research team compiled a list of processors in the two counties inAppendix H. Appendix I provides a map of Yolo and Solano County processors in proximity tofood in relationship to distribution centers and the roadways frequently utilized for distributionwithin the two counties (SACOG, 2011). This map illustrates the geographic proximity of YoloCounty processing and distribution routes, illuminating potential opportunities and partnershipswithin existing infrastructure.BarriersProcessing markets are both competitive and dynamic (COE, 2010), and food processingconditions in Yolo and Solano counties are largely driven by economies of scale. Small-scaleproducers often lack entry to processing due to barriers that include high entry costs in additionto size and scale requirements of existing operations (Yolo Ag Viability Summary, n.d.). Othertimes there are other challenges between various players in the industry. For example, to assurefood freshness in the produce industry there is pressure to align the timing of the harvest with theavailability of the processor. Farmers cite the difficulties of sourcing a reliable processor and 45
  46. 46. being able to meet the proper volume requirements and price points of customers as primaryreasons to work with processors outside of Yolo and Solano counties (Yolo Ag ViabilitySummary, n.d.).The UC Davis research team visited a local mid-size diversified farm located along Interstate 80.The farmer has been working on plans to implement processing facilities on his property andwould like to build a winery, a dairy, a commercial kitchen, and a separate processing kitchen.He went on to describe plans for his future facility that will serve as an asset to the region‘sfarmers. During the visit, the farmer explained that both the state and the county regulatesprocessing infrastructure that could present conflicts between local and state governances. Forexample, he said county regulations tend to be stricter than state regulations and that countyagencies are often not set up to deal with small-scale processors. These regulatory barriers can bedifficult for farmers to overcome. Without a user friendly, accessible mechanism for interpreting,organizing, and distributing this regulatory information to industry stakeholders, compliance canbe difficult and regulatory barriers can appear overwhelming, deterring small-scale processorsfrom entering the market.The UCD research team compiled a list of processors in the two counties in Appendix H.Appendix I provides a map of Yolo and Solano County processors in proximity to food inrelationship to distribution centers and the roadways frequently utilized for distribution withinthe two counties (SACOG, 2011). This map illustrates the geographic proximity of Yolo Countyprocessing and distribution routes, illuminating potential opportunities and partnerships withinexisting infrastructure.An interview with a local multinational fruit drying company revealed that a diverse marketapproach that is part of what keeps this mid-large scale food processor in business. Raisins andprunes are the main fruits that the company works with and while talking with the Director ofInternational Sales, it was stated the company success is attributed to the presence ofinternational as well as local markets for their own brand of dried fruit as well as for their privatelabel customers in which case the fruit is packaged by another major name brand. Due toaccommodating farmer quantity minimums and time of delivery restrictions, small-scale farmers
  47. 47. can better access this drying facility as the plant serves a variety of customer outlets, and isalways strategizing to maintain company standards, efficiency, and economic viability whileoffering smaller-scale farmers access to a drying and packing facility. As a mid-large scaleprocessor this fruit dryer requires a steady flow of distribution channels to and from theirlocation with multiple pick ups and drop offs occurring daily. One of the noted challenges forthis particular processor was the financial and spatial challenges of sitting on the surplus ofincoming product that surrounds that late fall when the majority of area farmers harvest.SummaryProcessing creates value added products and holds opportunities for growth within Yolo andSolano county employment profiles. In addition, the realization of regionalized food processingthrough the emergence of diversified products, new food entrepreneurs, processors, andprocessing industries will require the provision of necessary infrastructure and a clearerunderstanding of current regulations. Solano County Shared Spoon Kitchen and The HillelHouse in Yolo County are two commercial kitchens that may serve to expand various scales offood processing. The AFA will need to decide what type of processing it wants to expand withinthe counties and then research the specific regulations to better respond to current barriers andopportunities. Additional recommendations can be found in Chapter 3.Food Distribution in Yolo and Solano CountiesIndustry OverviewFollowing food processing, distribution infrastructure facilitates the transportation of foodproducts to a variety of consumer outlets and institutional buyers. Distributors buy food directlyfrom farmers or processors and then sell the food to grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, foodbanks, and schools. Many small-scale farmers are often left out of the large-scale distributionmodel currently serving much of the American food system. Large-scale retail stores often 47
  48. 48. ―develop their own vertically integrated distribution systems that tend to shut out wholesalers,small processors, and smaller retailers‖ (Heffernan et al., 1999).Due to economies of scale, it is cheaper for these large distribution centers to buy food fromlarger farms, regardless of whether or not they are local. Larger farms also provide a distributorwith a more consistent source of food, making it difficult for smaller farms to compete. In theSacramento Region, some farmers have had a difficult time getting their food into a market, andfood is sometimes left to rot on the fields (Weintraub, 2010). This section describes the currentdistribution system in Yolo and Solano Counties. The section is divided into three parts:distribution industry composition, company lists, and barriers.Yolo and Solano Distribution Industry Composition―The Food Chain Cluster‖ is a recent study that analyzed the food distribution economy in Yoloand Solano Counties (Henton et al., 2011). The report showed that the food distribution industryis an important part of the two counties‘ economy that has been growing over the years. ―Theregion‘s GDP in distribution increased by almost three times since 1990, faster than any othersegment [in the food sector]‖ (Henton et al., 2011). In 2009, the GDP for the food distributionindustry in the two counties was $872 million. This GDP was higher than the GDP produced bythe food production sector and the food processing sector in 2009 (Henton et al., 2011).The food distribution industry provides employment for residents of both Yolo and SolanoCounties. According to ―The Food Chain Cluster,‖ about 19% of food system jobs in Yolo andSolano Counties were in the distribution sector in 2009 (Henton et al., 2011). In 2008, thoseemployed in the food distribution sectors had average earnings of about $46,762. From 2001 to2008, employee earnings from the distribution sector increased by 7%. Despite the increase inboth the GDP and employee earnings, there was a 2% decrease in employment from 2001-2009(Henton et al., 2011). It is not clear why the employment has slightly decreased while the GDPhas increased in the distribution sector of the two counties.

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